Saturday, December 31, 2011

"12 to 2012" Readathon: My Starting Point!

I'm excited to see a bunch of readers joining us today for an end of year celebration.  I'm still two books shy of making my Goodreads reading goal for 2011 and have many books on the way to being finished, so I'm thinking I should easily be able to wrap that up in the next twelve hours, right?

My mother is begging to go catch a matinee of something today, and since she is leaving to go home tomorrow, I don't want to feel like a big meanie and say no.  I think we'll have to take a little time out so we can hit a matinee.  I'd love to get her in on the reading action, but that's not her game at all, so I better not completely exclude my family today!

Anyway, I'm eager to get started.  Here are some of the books on my reading list today:

I'm not heading in any particular order, although I'll probably be finishing off a couple of these that I've started.  Let's be honest here--I'm trying to meet my Goodreads' goal, so I'm not so much going for "reading for reading's sake" as I am for finishing things up.  
Well, I'm off to go finish some books!  If you can, join us today for some great reading!  I noticed that Twitter is down right now, so I'm going to head off to get some reading in and I'll check back in a bit.  Best wishes!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Ring in the New Year with a "12 to 2012" Read-a-Thon

Are you tired of ringing in the New Year at a big party or get-together?  Are you like I am and inevitably end up in a fight with someone (verbal--not fisty-cuffs) or end up pondering on all you failed to accomplish that year?  Whether you love or hate New Year's Eve, you could always give a good 1/2 marathon, ahem, I mean READ-a-thon a try. 

After a great conversation via Twitter, @heidenkind, @picky_girl, and myself (@mjmbecky) decided to switch up our New Year's Eve with a good read-a-thon that would run from 12 pm to midnight.  We're in the central and mountain time zones, but we're going to start at noon wherever we're at. No worries.  Just let me know if you'd like to join in, or you can stop by here on New Year's Eve or check into Twitter.  We'll be reading and tweeting all evening!  However you celebrate, have a great New Year!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Goodreads Goal: Three to Go!

The holidays have been really great so far.  Here's what I've been up to:
  • Staying up late  (love, love, love)
  • Sleeping in  (love, hate, love, hate--love getting lots of sleep, hate seeing how late it is once I get going)
  • All the junk I couldn't do during school  (i.e. clean, organize, etc.)
  • Putting together that treadmill
  • Visiting the chiropractor 3+ times for putting together said treadmill  (Nice start to "good health.")
  • Graded 33+ essays and over 100 quizzes  (Only 70+ essays to go!  Ha, ha.)
  • Shopping for decor for my home  (I picked up some great stuff to go above my kitchen cupboards & an amazing piece of art for my guestroom.)
  • Did a LITTLE reading 
I've been waiting to get a document back from a publisher so I can post my interview with Phillipa Ashley, but with the holidays I think people are taking a much-deserved break!  It's still coming, but I have to wait just a bit longer.  No worries though.

Okay.  Now that I've shared a bit of what my holidays have entailed, let me get down to brass tax.  I was doing great on my 100 Book Challenge for Goodreads until the school year hit.  Ever since then, I feel as though I've been chasing that darn app, always managing to be a book or two behind.

Thankfully, setting my challenge has really pushed me to try out books and genres I might not have otherwise.  For instance, I have become a big fan of graphic novels.  Who would have thought?!?  There are some really great reads out there and I've enjoyed trying out ones I haven't read before.  When you only have a snippet of time, a graphic novel is a perfect option.  Audiobooks have also been a great option to fill in the gaps.  When I have had no other time than the drive to and from work, listening to a book has made me feel as though I'm still getting in a little reading.

Well, there's my update and challenge!  Wish me luck, since I'm on my way to finishing those last three books  (and 70+ essays...).  Here's to hoping I can actually finish it up before 2012.  Then I'll need to regroup and have a "Review-Writing" Challenge!

Did you set a Goodreads Challenge and where are you at with it?

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas & a Giveaway Winner!!!

First off, Merry Christmas to one and all! I've been delightfully sidetracked and kept busy by family and friends.  I see salads and plenty of fruit and veg in my future to help me account for all of the goodies we've been eating, but it has felt pretty worth it for the moment!  We're staying in today, decked out in our pjs (even for Christmas dinner), and will be tucking into a stack a books later in the day.  That's my present to myself!

Also, I didn't get my Austen B-day Soiree winners posted on Friday, so I thought now would be a perfect gift to someone! 

The winner of a nice grab bag (drawn at random from of Austen-related novels is: 
Heather M. 

Congrats!  I've sent you an email and will hope to hear from you some time after Christmas so I can get this little extra Christmas surprise off to you. 

Thanks to everyone who joined in on Jane Austen's Birthday this year and the great posts for the Austen Soiree.

Well, that's my hello on this Christmas Day.  However you spend this wonderful holiday, I hope you have a great one!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Holiday Catch Up

First off, please check back on December 26th for a fun author interview with the great Phillipa Ashley.  With all the holiday madness, we're going to move it back a couple of days.  Check back on Monday for more from Phillipa about how she came up with her characters and more!  (Check out my review of Carrie Goes off the Map for a fun read.)

Next, stop by my good friend Tasha's blog Truth, Beauty, Freedom, and Books to check out Romance Month.  There are some fun posts--including a little something Tasha asked me to write up!  I love the great stuff my other blogger friends wrote up, especially about romance reads, so it was a lot of fun to bust out of my normal writing style to post a little fun post about romance heroes and romance novel covers.  Check out all the posts this month, but you can also check out my guest post, "Judging a Cover By Its Man-Flesh."

One last thing!  Thank you to everyone who joined in the birthday celebration for Jane Austen.  It was a lot of fun learning a bit more about Austen-era sweets and joining so many other great bloggers and authors in celebrating Austen's birthday!

All right, now it's time to head back to my grading, reading, and resting!  I wrenched my back pretty good a couple of weeks ago (trying to put together my new treadmill--how ironic) and it finally knocked me flat on Tuesday.  Today I'm pretty thankful for chiropractors and plenty of time to rest.  Maybe it was yet another way to avoid grading all of these essays?  :)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Review: Carrie Goes Off the Map by Phillipa Ashley

In the midst of a dry spell where it comes to actually finishing books, I did have a wonderful reading session with Phillipa Ashley's book Carrie Goes off the Map.  Yes, I have an interview at the end of this week with Phillipa, but I just really like her novels and the great romantic escape they serve up!

Thankfully we're off for the holidays.  It couldn't have come sooner for me.  I still have 100+ essays to read over the break, but I think that with some much needed sleep and R&R, those will feel like nothing!  Also, this will be my first Christmas back on the mainland for about four years.  Every year I've traveled to Hawaii to spend it with my mother, but since she moved home, we'll be spending it at my house this year.  I'm sad to not spend Christmas Eve at a luau or Christmas Day on the beach (or the entire holiday in a pair of shorts and sandals, for that matter), but I am kind of happy that I didn't have to pack everything up this year and will be spending it at my home.  It will be a really nice Christmas.  Trust me when I say that I'll be spending as much time as possible reading!  I can't wait.  Let me, however, share this great read.  It was a great book to start off my holiday.

Synopsis:  Just coming off being dumped by her long time boyfriend and fiance, Carrie Brownhill has to find a way to pull her life together and show herself and her ex that her life isn't over.  At the same time, Matt Landor, MD has just returned from a tropical island, where he had been doing  medical service and just traumatized by an accident that had him shipped home to recoup and repair.  Together, he and Carrie somehow end up in each other's paths to healing.  Strangely, it comes in the form of an antiquated camper and a road trip.  Can a road trip do anything more than cause the travelers to bicker and fight?

Review:  Phillipa Ashley has a fun, lively style to her writing that keeps the tempo moving in her stories, and her characters progressing.  I'm always struck by writers who can get me to care about the main character quickly, and I always seem to feel that way with Ashley's heroines.  In this case, Carrie could be any woman who has been dumped by her man/fiance.  However, her situation seems compounded by feelings of all the time she lost and for being played a fool.  It's not as if the relationship fizzled out and they both knew it wasn't right, it was like being jilted and left the outsider and the unwanted.  All you have to do is add a main male lead character who is charismatic, attractive, aloof, and a Mr. Darcy comparison, and you have a real recipe for sure romance.  

Whatever it is about a woman who has been scorned and left aside that draws a man in, I'll never quite understand, but we all seem to love  it.  I can't say that I know of anyone who has done that in real life (gotten together on the back of a nasty split, although I know they exist), but there is something appealing about having that resolution.  This story isn't an easy get together though.  Much of the story is spent traveling the countryside, as Carrie and her handsome doctor, Matt, take a road trip to forget their woes.  As any road trip is bound to do, the two get into their quarrels and eat their fair share of gas station fare.  With that comes short tempers, but also a number of conversations brought on by fatigue and heightened emotions.  

As with Phillipa Ashley's novels, I really enjoyed this newest one.  Carrie's story is one that many women will recognize and see themselves in from start to finish (or at least wish to).

*FTC Disclosure:  This review was based on an advanced copy provided by the publisher.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Happy Birthday to Jane Austen: Soiree & Giveaway

Happy Birthday to the amazing Jane Austen!  

Along with many other Jane Austen fans, bloggers, and authors, we want to take a moment to offer a gift in celebration of Jane Austen's Birthday.  One of the things I thought would be interesting to share a bit about today was the food that Austen would have been eating in her day.  What might have been shared around the table in celebration of her birthday?  Other than customary roasts of beef, chicken, partridge, lamb, etc., we would find lovely breads, marmalade, and soups.  What about the birthday cake?

Although the birthday cake as we know it today probably did not really gain popularity until near the end of Austen's life or just after, cakes and puddings in celebration of special occasions have existed since the Ancient Romans.  In that case, what kind of cakes existed in Jane Austen's day?  According to "The Jane Austen Centre," she might have enjoyed a Pound or Gingercake, a Boiled Pudding or Fruit Trifle, or even pie or cookie.  Regardless of the exact treat, I thought I'd share a couple of the recipe links here for you to check out and maybe try out over the holidays this year.

Here are a few:

Christmas Fruit Cake
Christmas Pudding
Just a Trifle
Gingerbread Cakes
Rich Pound Cake

Although fruit and nuts might have been more along the line of what they would have served for dessert, these delicious sweet treats were around in Austen's day and might have graced her table on her birthday, at some point. 

In celebration of Jane Austen's birthday, a number of us are going to be offering up wonderful treats and giveaways of our own. 

For the Giveaway:  I have a number of Austen-themed books that include:  The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy, Prom and Prejudice, and more!  I'd like to share these books in a nice grab bag to one person in the U.S. or Canada.  All you have to do is leave a comment, along with your name and email address where you can be reached.  The giveaway will close on December 23rd at midnight.

For other great posts and giveaways, please visit the following blogs and sites:

Sharon Lathan (Austen Author)
O! Beauty Unattempted!
Semi-True Stories
First Draft  (Cindy S. Jones, Austen Author)
Regency Sketches
Brant Flakes
Mesmered's Blog
The Heroine's Bookshelf
vvb32 reads
The Fiction vs. Reality Smackdown
Regina Jeffers (Austen Author)
Alyssa Goodnight
Jane Austen in Vermont
Jane Started It!
Choc Lit Authors' Corner
Reading, Writing, Working, Playing
The Jane Austen Film Club
El Salon de Te de Jane
Kaitlin Saunders  (Austen Author)
Patrice Sarath  (Austen Author)
Jane Austen Brasil
Jane Austen Sequels (Jane Odiwe, Austen Author)
Stiletto Storytime
Jennifer W. Becton
Urban Girl Takes Vermont
Pemberley Variations  (Abigail Reynolds, Austen Author)
Austen Authors
November's Autumn
My Jane Austen Book Club

Check them out!  There are amazing giveaways going on in celebration of Austen's birthday today. 

Thanks to Maria Grazia, of My Jane Austen Book Club, & Katherine Cox, of November's Autumn for hosting and putting together this great event.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Darcy for Everyone!

In celebration of Jane Austen's birthday on Friday, Sourcebooks is offering a fantastic selection of Austen-inspired novels for $1.99 wherever ebooks are sold.  This giveaway runs from today, December 13th through December 30th.  

Here are some of the great offerings:

Many of these books have been reviewed here at One Literature Nut if you're interested in checking out a review.  Otherwise, you can go to Sourcebooks for more information on this great Austen sale!  Check them out and enjoy.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sunday Blatherings: What's Up?!?

Yes, I can hardly believe that it has been a week since I last wrote a post.  Things have been really busy, as I'm sure it is for everyone.  It's all good, but very busy.  To be honest, I struggled to get much reading done, because I fall asleep a couple of pages in.  Not good.

Although I've been a real snooze fest this past week, I did finish Phillipa Ashley's newest release here in the states, Carrie Goes Off the Map and am really excited to both review it and then have an interview with Phillipa later this month.  I've really grown to love her books.  I'm finally acknowledging what an Anglophile I really am, but beyond my love for all things British and an undeniable love for Chick Lit., her books are just great.  This newest one is yet another fun read with plenty of crazy, romantic tension.

Well, I do hope to get a few reviews or posts up this week, but it is going to be incredibly busy--again.  Thankfully we have two weeks off for Christmas break though, so I'm sure I can hang on one more week.  Oh, did I mention that I'm all done with Christmas shopping?  Yes.  I'm very proud & relieved to say that.

Here's what I'll be reading this week:

I need to have this read for book club this week!

Yes, I thought I'd check out the graphic novel version!
 I better get with it if I'm going to read the eight books I have left in my Goodreads goal!  Wish me luck in surviving my last work week in 2011.  I'm not sure I'll get much reading in this next week, but I can definitely see a lot of reading coming up over the holidays.  I CAN'T WAIT!  
What about you?  Are you reading more or less right now?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sunday Blatherings

Happy Sunday!  For some reason, today I feel like saying a big huzzah to weekends.  Work is besides the point and I should just skip how crazy it is in my posts, although it does seem to dominate my life.  Things are good though.  Out of the three online courses I either had to teach or take has recently wrapped up and I'm already feeling much better.  Needless to say, things are busy as always, but good.

Yesterday I woke up with a monster of a migraine, so my plans for the day went out the window, as I was supposed to meet up with some family and friends for Christmas stuff.  I decided it was my body's way of enforcing a time out.  It worked though, and I spent about 6 or 7 hours reading in a semi-dark room.  You would think that might be a bit depressing, but it was actually really nice to unwind.  Especially considering I haven't had a chance to read in what felt like weeks.

Anyway, here is what I've been reading:

Yes, some of these I'm still working on.  I have about fourteen books on my reading pile right now, with a lifetime of books lined up in the wings.  Not that I'm complaining about all of those great books!  I love having so many options.

Well, that's my weekend.  How is your weekend and what are you reading?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Review: Love's Exquisite Freedom by Maya Angelou

I know it's late and I should be in bed, but posts and reviews have been neglected in the face of a busy schedule, post vacation.  That always seems to be the case.  With so much going on, all the time, I haven't etched out a lot of time to read and get my blog updated.  Other than a much too busy schedule, things are really good and I have much to be thankful for in my life.  Christmas should be exciting, as it will be the first one I'll be celebrating in my new home.  I can't wait!

In preparation for Christmas, I ran into the library one night after work and noticed this beautiful picture book, Love's Exquisite Freedom.  Because I am in the middle of reading Angelou's book Heart of a Woman, I felt drawn to the picture book.  It was a wonderfully sweet diversion and a quick reminder of the depth of life around us.   Set to paintings and artwork by Sir Edward-Burne Jones, these Pre-Raphealite inspired paintings made for a beautiful backdrop and combination to Angelou's inspiring words.  Her poem focuses on the power of love and its comparisons, to lift and draw the reader out of their everyday lives.  That, with the amazing artwork depicting heaven and earth commingling, made Angelou's poetic theme magnify in power and beauty. 

If you're looking to have a beautiful and quick read, or just flat out in a reading or personal slump, then this is a great picture book to set you on track.  It seems as though this is a series of art to poetry-made books, but I couldn't find any others out or that included Angelou's writing.  For this one time reading experience, this was a really lovely adult picture book.

I'm not sure if this is a bookseller associated with the publisher, but I found a lovely online version that you can go through and check out the entire poem and artwork for yourself.  Check out Love's Exquisite Freedom at the link provided and tell me what you think!

*FTC Disclosure--This review was based on a library copy of the book.